Snowball fights are complicated. On one hand, everyone can remember a good snowball fight or two from their youth, kids laughing and running around as they threw soft snow globes back and forth across hastily assembled forts. This image, of happy, innocent kids playfully having a laugh, is the dominant image of snowball fights in our culture. And in many instances, this image is accurate.
But there’s more to snowball fights than that. Like all fun things, they can go very wrong without much warning. Winter is cold, snow can hide nasty objects, and kids don’t always have the smarts or experience to understand how to keep themselves safe. Snowball fights can be dangerous.
The biggest danger posed by snowball fights is hidden objects. During a snowball fight, a child could easily and accidentally throw a rock at another child’s head. A couple inches of frozen water will not make a rock any safer. A rock to the head could serious injury, even brain damage; brain damage accidents can lead to major lawsuits, according to Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard.
Kids are not always careful when they pack snowballs. Snow can be thick and heavy. And the cold and gloves can numb a child’s fingers to the dangers hidden inside a snowball. When people make snowballs, they don’t build them out of a clean, prepared supply of the stuff. Instead, people make snowballs by picking snow right up off the ground. The ground is full of awful stuff. Dangerous objects like rocks and broken glass can be lying in the snow, as can other undesirable things such as animal droppings and roadkill. The sorts of things you don’t want your kids throwing at each other.
If there’s enough snow for a snowball fight, it’s cold out. People often neglect to take care of themselves in the cold. In many parts of the United States, the temperature can drop well below zero regularly. Kids, especially, tend to neglect hazardous chills, leaving them exposed to risks of hypothermia. Hypothermia, if left untreated, can lead to lost limbs and even death. The cold is a serious business, and you don’t want your kids running around in subzero weather. Kids neglect danger when they’re having fun. Getting a face full of snowball will make you colder than just the temperature will. As a parent, you need to pay attention to the temperature and keep its dangers in mind.
It’s important that you know these things, yes, but it’s also crucial that educate your children about the dangers of snowball fights. You can’t have your eyes on your family twenty four hours a day, so let them know what can happen if they’re not careful. Get your kids good winter gear, teach them the dangers of objects that can be hidden in snowballs, and teach them about the weather. A basic thermometer is easy enough for most children to read; tell them at which temperature the risks of hypothermia increase, how to care for hypothermia, and how to get ahold of an adult if they encounter danger.